Lauderdale House’s restoration dream is finally a reality

Seven years ago, the £2.3million renovation of an historic arts centre was just an ambitious dream.

But thanks to the tireless work of staff and volunteers, Highgate’s beloved Lauderdale House has now secured enough funding to send in the builders and plough ahead with a transformation that will secure the future of the 16th-century mansion for generations.

However the Grade II-listed house off Highgate Hill still needs your help to raise the last £250,000 to put the finishing touches on its transformation.

Director Katherine Ives said: “It’s really hard to believe it’s actually happening because we’ve been working on it for so long and it’s been like a distant dream. But now we’re making that dream into a reality.”

Preliminary works to the upper floor of the Grade II-listed house will begin on Monday, the start of an extensive 13-month project called Lauderdale Transformed.

The arts centre will continue to run a full events programme in its lower gallery until September 30, when the house will be closed for nearly a year. A significant transformation will then take place, including the creation of a state-of-the-art education centre and a glass-roof atrium to allow the house to run more than one event at a time. It will also employ a heritage education officer to work with pupils from nearby schools.

The mansion – once home to King Charles II’s infamous mistress Nell Gwynn – is due to reopen in September 2016. It will “pop up” at several venues across Highgate during the restoration.

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A little more than £2.1million has been raised towards the cost of renovation – including £20,000 to a final push crowdfunding campaign launched in partnership with the Ham&High earlier this year.

There is still £250,000 to find, but Ms Ives said it is now or never for the project. “It’s really important that we go ahead now we have this amount of money because the building market is escalating really quickly,” she said.

“If we wait any longer, we will be chasing an ever-escalating target.”

The remaining funds will pay for final fixtures and fittings, including marble shelving for the restoration of a large wooden buffet on the house’s ground floor known as Nell Gwynn’s bath.

Ms Ives said: “The last touches are fundamental. It’s all very well that we can pay to rewire the gallery but if we have to go to Ikea and get the cheapest fittings, it really will undermine what could be stunning.”

More information here.